Tag Archives: Friendship Academy

Montco Movin’ Up Day 2016

By Colleen Joyce

On Wednesday, June 15, the Friendship Academy’s Class of 2016 celebrated Movin’ Up Day. Movin’ Up Day is the Friendship Academy’s graduation ceremony. It was held this year at the Tucker and Perry Gresh Center, where Friendship Academy classes are also held. The hour-long ceremony took place outside and began at 1:00 PM. Dan Benonis, the Friendship Academy’s music therapist, welcomed students and their families with a lively arrangement of upbeat songs at the beginning of the ceremony. Everyone clapped along as the students began taking their seats and preparing for the graduation. Even some of our staff members came out to join in on the fun!

Afterwards, Mary Berlin made a commencement speech for the Class of 2016. All the teachers, teacher assistants, and therapists who worked with the students throughout the year watched on with excitement. Although the teachers of Classroom F and Classroom G were happy to see their students grow up and move on, they also couldn’t help but be a little sad to see them go.

After the commencement speech, the students were finally ready to graduate. Proud parents, family members, and friends watched as each member of the Class of 2016 received a diploma. All the children were excited to move on and smiled as they saw their fellow classmates graduate. Likewise, their parents, family, and friends will surely cherish the moment they got to see all the children shake hands with Mary and receive their diplomas.

After the ceremony, cake and punch were served to parents, family, and friends as everyone took pictures and said their goodbyes. All the graduates even got one last chance to play with their friends and teachers in the school’s playground after graduation was over! Some family members and graduates stayed after the ceremony to watch a slideshow of pictures and music that chronicled different moments during the year. The graduates reminisced with their family, fondly remembering all the new friends they made and all the new things they learned throughout the year!

Movin’ Up Day was an exciting and fun celebration! We couldn’t have done it without our staff though! We are sure that our incredible teachers, teacher assistants, and staff have prepared each graduate for their new schools and a lifetime of joy. We hope that our lessons involving a variety of disciplines, including reading, math, art, music, science, and technology have well-equipped students with reaching their future goals. The members of the Friendship Academy family also hope that our diverse range of students have made the future generations of children more compassionate and understanding members of society. The Friendship Academy would like to thank the parents and guardians of each graduate since they allowed us to play, learn, love, and grow with their wonderful children. We will miss them all! Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

 

 

Anyone can use Positive Behavior Strategies(PBIS)!

by Pat Potalivo

I wanted to share a short story about how effective PBIS is here at Easter Seals. My name is Pat, and I am an Administrative Assistant at the Bucks County division of Easter Seals.  One morning recently, a mother who has four boys came in to drop off two of her children at Friendship Academy. The boys were being very animated and were not listening to Mom as they were walking back to the classroom.  I walked over to the behavioral expectations poster in the lobby. I got the attention of the children, and specifically showed them  “Stay together,”  “Quiet Mouth,” and “listen(to Mom)”   At once, the boys began walking slowly and quietly through the hallway. The mother turned around to me, as they walked down the hallway, with a happy and  astonished look on her face.  These expectations are effective and easy to use.

pbis

It’s Just Not Fair

by Michael Murphy

“It’s Just Not Fair” is often heard throughout a preschool classroom, more so in an inclusive classroom such as Friendship Academy where students are treated and educated as individuals; meaning that praise is always given, but rewards are based on expectations of those individuals. We get excited for each and every achievement that happens in our classroom, but even the youngest of students notices when one student has a reward bin, or a penny board, or gets to take breaks after long activities. They catch on quick, they can get upset, they can sometimes be right.

As a teacher I explain the situation in ways they understand, ways they can remember. I dance until they smile, I offer them the world. They still know it is not a sticker but it is enough for the moment to let them forget.

As a preschool teacher, I get excited for all sorts of achievements. I may dance and sing more than I teach. A successful circle time, I dance. An awesome line in the hallway, I sing. A classroom of good listeners, I do both.

As a teacher of Friendship Academy it gets a little different. All types of students have all types of achievements. Friends utilize full sentences, I sing. Friends keep hands to themselves or find ways to control themselves in exciting activities, I dance. Friends make basic vocalizations, I do both. Friends engage in a flawless transition from one activity to another, I do both. Friends go a whole day without a meltdown, I do both. Friends engage in an activity and try their best for two minutes, I lose my mind for that.

What is really “just not fair” is that after all the work, after all the success, after all the praise and rewards. I don’t get to watch them grow anymore. They go off to elementary school. They work to be the good leaders in the classroom, the examples, the students who engage because they want to, not because they have to. And then I start from scratch, one step at a time. Maybe it is better this way because after all the leaps and bounds…

I’m running out of stickers.

Quilts For Kids’ gifts to the Bucks County Division

by Adrienne Young

Quilts for Kids Incorporated is a national non-profit organization that provides brightly colored quilts for children, especially those with special needs or kids that are hospitalized for short or long stays. The beautiful quilts are made by volunteers. The organization began in Lower Bucks County and is now international.

 

We were so excited in Bucks when we received a call from one of the Quilts for Kids volunteers asking if we would like quilts for all of our students. Our Friendship Academy and Approved Private school students were each given a choice of which quilt they would like to take home. Our students and families are so appreciative to this organization for thinking of us.

quilts

A new look at the Friendship Academy

The Friendship Academy is an amazing program where all children play to learn. This unique program provides an excellent early childhood education program with a research-driven and enriched curriculum in a child-friendly and safety-oriented setting.

The Friendship Academy is an inclusive program, which means that children with disabilities learn side-by-side with their typically developing peers. The benefit to the children with disabilities is the opportunity to model their peers. The benefits to the typically developing children are many. Some of the program features include; “Handwriting Without Tears”, an eco-science experience with a greenhouse/garden, music instructor, arts and crafts, iPad technology and a library and book loan program.

We have created a video that gives you first-hand look at how the program is impacting families.

The Friendship Academy – A Parent’s Perspective

by Megan Ward

What I love most about The Friendship Academy is how excited my son is at the end of the day to tell me all about of the wonderful things that he did at school. From gardening, to cooking, to Yoga, to playing on their awesome playground, he is always doing something interesting and fun while learning and developing socially at the same time. His first day back after a two week summer break, the first thing that he did was tell his teacher, Ms. Jane, that he missed her so much and gave her a big hug. It makes me so happy and content as a mother to know that my son is somewhere where he feels comfortable and where not only the teachers and aids, but the director and administrators really know him, care about him, and are passionate about helping him grow.

I really enjoy reading the daily feedback that I receive from my son’s teacher because it shows me that he is getting one-on-one attention and that his individual likes and dislikes are being considered. It also helps us to know what types of activities he is really enjoying and excelling at and what things may need some extra encouragement so that we can work with him at home as well. I also really appreciated that The Friendship Academy was willing to assist us with potty training, earlier this year, allowing our son to go at his own pace and never once making him, or my husband and I, feel like he wasn’t doing things fast enough.

Overall, I think that discovering The Friendship Academy and enrolling our son was the best thing that we could have done for him. I was impressed from the moment we stepped in the door and met the director to take a tour and this school has continued to exceed my expectations. We have watched him grow tremendously over the past year in so many new ways and are more than happy to have the teachers and staff at The Friendship Academy as part of his daily life. Our younger son will be starting there in September and we cannot be more excited for him to begin his preschool journey and to watch him grow.

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